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  1. #1
    Junior Member
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    Jan 2011
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    Query Letter Critique, Please - YA Novel

    Hi, Everyone!

    I'm new to the forums, but I've really enjoyed them so far. It's obvious there is a lot of valuable feedback available. So, thanks in advance for any help you can give on this query letter. I really appreciate it.

    -Shannon


    **

    Dear Agent,

    Seventeen year old Bethany Stice knows how to handle a hysterical infant, but she has no desire to baby a guy her own age, cancer or not.

    Jason Enderle is furious at the world after cancer ravaged his once strong body and destroyed every dream he had, leaving only a bare head and the chemical stink of countless prescriptions seeping from his pores. Feeling like a stranger in his own skin, Jason is too weak and frustrated to return to school for his senior year. Facing his friends, and their memories of the energetic guy he once was, is a nightmare he never wishes to face. Cancer killed the Jason they knew and loved, and heís not sure whoís been left behind. A grumpy, bitter, all around jerk, thatís who. And thatís on a good day.

    When Jasonís dad and stepmom are confident enough in his recovery to return to their respective jobs, Jason stays locked in his upstairs bedroom, trying to ignore the occasional cries of his baby brother. Heís got a sitter. Dad told him that much. His father also told him the girl was new in town and not to scare her away. No problem. He canít scare someone he never intends to meet.

    Except that Bethany Stice has a tendency to explore new places. Finding an ill Jason clutching his stomach, Bethany is instantly alarmed. She insists on calling his parents, but Jason is tired of their every minute revolving around him. Frustrated by the self-loathing she witnesses in Jason, Bethany surprises Jason by simply leaving him alone.

    Jason had convinced himself he wanted to be treated like a normal person, and not the sick, cancer ridden patient he once was, but Bethanyís willingness to do exactly that infuriates him.

    Only later will he learn that Bethany moved to town to live with her father after her mother's death. A long, drawn out illness is not new to Bethany. Sheís lived through every gritty detail, right down to the terrifying end. Her mom didnít get a chance to get better. Jason does. She has no desire to watch him waste it.

    My debut Young Adult novel, Not Here to Hold Your Hand, is complete at 72,000 words.

    Thank you for your time and consideration.



  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
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    263

    Re: Query Letter Critique, Please - YA Novel

    You're trying one of the most difficult tricks in query history. The two-POV Q. They work about as often as it snows in Miami (in July).

    I suggest rewriting with only one POV. That sounds like B but maybe not.

    Also check out the resources in the QUERY and SYNOPSIS STRUCTURE thread.
    Stan

  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    Mar 2006
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    Ohio
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    Re: Query Letter Critique, Please - YA Novel

    If this is a 2-POV novel I would limit it to one paragraph for Bethany, one for Jason, and a third for wrap-up, rather than jumping around.

  4. #4
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    Re: Query Letter Critique, Please - YA Novel

    Shannon,

    can I ask if you've had any personal experience with cancer patients?
    The reason I ask is that this QL isn't ringing true to me.

    I do like the idea if the story though.
    if the wine is sour Ė throw it out

    SatyricalRaven

  5. #5
    Junior Member
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    Re: Query Letter Critique, Please - YA Novel

    Thanks so much, guys. I realize now the risk with the 2 POV's, and I'll definitely re-write and eliminate the switching back and forth.

    Satyrical, yes, I do have experience with young cancer patients. However, the story is more about recovery and dealing with a confused self-image than it is about the actual illness. I realize it's such a sensitive issue, and if something about the QL isn't ringing true, that's my biggest concern. Thanks again for the help.

  6. #6
    Junior Member
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    Re: Query Letter Critique, Please - YA Novel

    ok ya the QL could use some work but the story sounds awesome!

  7. #7
    Senior Member
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    Re: Query Letter Critique, Please - YA Novel

    I think that is a great query letter! I can envision exactly what the book is about, it makes me curious to read more, yet it does not have any superfluous information.

    Now I wrote this feedback without reading what the others wrote. I don't have as much experience as most of them, so I might be totally off again.... but that is how I perceived it.

    I would think it would be a great YA book - good luck!

  8. #8
    Senior Member
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    Re: Query Letter Critique, Please - YA Novel

    Well, I just read what everyone else had to say.... what can I say? :S

    However, I just survived a bout with cancer last year, chemo, radiation, the whole horrible kittenkaboodle. I did not see anything that odd about the description. Other maybe that you might have made it sound as if he will never re-gain the youthful strength he had before - and unless the cancer is not in permanent remission he probably would. But other than that - I am not sure what did not sound "authentic" to someone?

    It also did not confuse me that you had two different POVs.

    But maybe I am just way too uncritical. Or easygoing. I don't know...... I still thought it was really good.

    ~ S.

  9. #9
    Amy Lou
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    Re: Query Letter Critique, Please - YA Novel

    I also thought this was a great query, but if you go by the queries I've posted you might not trust my judgement. I thought the plot of your story was clear and sounded very interesting. I would read this after reading over your query. I think just a little tightening up and working on the POV thing like someone else pointed out will make this query perfect. Congrats, you might be graduating from query hell. LOL Great job.
    Amy

  10. #10
    Senior Member Zoe Saadia's Avatar
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    Re: Query Letter Critique, Please - YA Novel

    I loved this summary :-)
    My experience in reading query letters are next to non-existent (if two days of browsing through this forum do not count), but as a simple reader I would be fascinated to proceed with such a book :-)
    Pre-Columbian North America

    http://blog.zoesaadia.com/

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